Smithsonian Picks New Chief to Build Trust, Funding The nation's "attic" has a new chief. Wayne Clough has been named secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He is currently president of Georgia Tech, where he has a proven track record of running a large public institution. Now more than ever, the Smithsonian needs an adept leader who can restore the public trust.
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Smithsonian Picks New Chief to Build Trust, Funding

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Smithsonian Picks New Chief to Build Trust, Funding

Smithsonian Picks New Chief to Build Trust, Funding

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, the new secretary has a big job ahead of him.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: Wayne Clough stood in a majestic room in the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall. A stuffed snow leopard and big black bear looked down over the new secretary. This was a big day for Smithsonian officials. After a year of scandal, Alan Spoon, the head of the search committee, explained one of the reasons Wayne Clough got the job.

ALAN SPOON: Public trust. His ability to build that is proven on a variety of planes, but certainly in the communities that he's served around Georgia, the Georgia educational system, the legislature there, the governor, the local community. We've checked into that as well.

BLAIR: The board of regents, which oversees the Smithsonian, was sharply criticized for a lack of oversight. Pablo Eisenberg is a professor at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute and a regular columnist for the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

PABLO EISENBERG: You have an entrenched board of regents who are responsible for what has been going on who failed to exercise their fiduciary responsibility and oversight responsibilities.

BLAIR: About 70 percent of the Smithsonian's budget comes from the federal government, but members of Congress have said repeatedly don't look to us. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California heads the committee that oversees the Smithsonian.

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I see no way that that two and a half billion dollar shortfall is ever going to be picked up by the public sector. The pressures on the dollars in that particular allocation is just too great.

BLAIR: As for all of the problems he will face at the Smithsonian, Wayne Clough believes he's ready.

WAYNE CLOUGH: I have tried to position myself in life from the point of view of serving the folks that I work for. And leadership, I think, is very much a servant operation. And I believe that problem-solving is part of that, but you don't want to be consumed by the problems. Because if you are consumed by the problems, you forget about the great vision that stands in front of you.

BLAIR: Elizabeth Blair, NPR News, Washington.

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